Snoop Dogg Goes Retro on New Album ‘Bush’
Maintaining relevance in hip-hop is a challenge that all veteran MCs deal with at the latter part of their careers, but in the case of Snoop Dogg, the iconic rapper has managed to evolve and reinvent himself from time to time into a model of gangsta consistency and become one of America's most beloved rappers.
Returning with his 13th studio album, Bush, Snoop leaves behind the Rastafarian moniker Snoop Lion he created on his 2013 release, Reincarnated, and takes listeners down a trippy, psychedelic road with an album full of retro funk and disco. With good pal and frequent collaborator Pharrell Williams spearheading the production of the album, Bush finds Snoop Dogg channeling his inner Bootsy Collins while maintaining his sly, pimp persona over the funky sounds of Skateboard P. Boosted by guest appearances from Gwen Stefani, Kendrick Lamar, Rick Ross, Charlie Wilson and Stevie Wonder, the Doggfather trades in the laid-back gangsta flows for a more vocal approach that showcases his singing ability and funk influence, making Bush an enjoyable ride from the very start.
Paying tribute to his home state of California, Snoop opens up the LP with the standout track "California Roll." On the melodic record, Snoop sings about the benefits of living in the Golden State and the amenities that come with it: beautiful women, weed, Hollywood and sun. Snoop is joined by Pharrell on the hook, while the legendary Stevie Wonder adds his signature harmonica riffs to the groovy backdrop. Another notable record on the project is the uptempo track "Awake," which features Snoop experimenting with different vocal ranges while providing a catchy and feel-good hook over a heavily jazz-influenced, G-Funk sound. The lead single off the album, "Peaches N Cream," is another highlight in the 10-track LP, which finds the Doggfather singing alongside Charlie Wilson on the 1970s-inspired song.
Although Bush features no signs of Snoop Dogg rapping, the hip-hop guest appearances on the project are solid and noteworthy. T.I.'s verse on the Neptunes-produced track "Edibles" features a braggadocios Tip unwilling to give up his spot in the game: "I solemnly swear, I will not share/This game with a lame, let him learn for himself," the King spits. The other rap features on the album come courtesy of Rick Ross and Kendrick Lamar who appear together on the track, "I'm Ya Dogg." Spitting witty rhymes about their sexual fantasies, Ross' flow matches Pharrell's slow production perfectly, while Kendrick shows off an arsenal of flows with clever rhyme patterns.
Overall, Bush is a fun and enjoyable listen from start to finish with the album's retro imagery brought to life by Snoop Dogg and his slick persona. Pharrell once again manages to bring out the best in Snoop, who steps out of his comfort zone to deliver a funkadelic album that stands out by itself in today's music climate. —Roger Krastz